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In the Night Room by Peter Straub

Publisher: Ballantine Books ISBN: 0345491327

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

Though this latest from Struab may have a somewhat slow beginning, he soon enough ratchets up the speed, and what follows gains all the momentum of a runaway train that will most likely leave most readers blown away in its wake.  Darkly humorous, VERY frightening, and just plain brilliant, this author never fails to amaze and thoroughly entertain with his out of this world tales of the dark side.

Somewhat of a sequel to Lost Boy Lost Girl, Struab continues the story of author Tim Underhill and his journeys to, and visitations from, the other side.   We also meet up with Willy Patrick, an author like Tim; she too comes from his childhood home town of Millhaven, the town where all the evil began, and where it all just might end. 

Willy too has been getting some vibes from the other side, most notably observed when she is tempted to storm a dark warehouse to save her little girl.  Only thing is, her little girl is dead.  Meanwhile, Tim is receiving emails from dead acquaintances, and by the time he figures out what they are trying to tell him, his and Willy's world will collide in the most imaginable and radiant way possible.

This must-read horror tale is simply incredible in every way.  Tender, dark, and simmering with a wry irony that is just plain inspired, it's the perfect book for a cold autumn afternoon. 

 

The Nymphos of Rocky Flats by Mario Acevedo

Publisher: Rayo ISBN: 0060833262

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

When Felix Gomez finished his tour in Iraq he was a vampire.  Now he is a civilian private investigator and has been hired by an old friend who works for DOE to find out why some of the women at Rocky Flats, Colorado became nymphomaniacs.  Never one to let a case go unsettled, Felix plunges in.  Unfortunately he soon learns he has to juggle his time between his case and a group that is patrolling Denver and killing vampires.

This is the most exciting fantasy mystery.  It is filled with nymphomaniacs, vampires, vampire hunters, politicians trying to hide the truth from the American public, and space aliens.  The most bizarre part of this fantasy is that it supposedly proves that Roswell, New Mexico is indeed the UFO capital.  If you like fantasy mysteries that keep the imagination clicking on eight cylinders, this is for you.  Hope you enjoy this as much as I did. 

 

Live Wire by Jay MacLarity

Publisher: Pocket   ISBN: 1416503471

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

Professional courier Simon Leonidovich has been hired to caddy documents between Washington and North Korea.  What Simon is unaware of is that the President is setting up a North Korean coup.  Getting caught in an uprising and barely missing an assassin's bullet he goes underground to try to get out of the country.  He finally decides to go through the papers he is carrying and discovers that someone is the American government is trying to set the president up and bring him crashing down. 

What a thriller this is, filled with clandestine political manipulations and paid assassins.  Although Simon often passes himself off as simple, he never forgets a thing.  He also has a great sense of humor that keeps you chuckling throughout all the tense action.  The electronics MacLarity has introduced in this novel are absolutely mind blowing, and when you combine all these elements, you have one heck of a fun and wild ride.

 

Night Laws by Jim Michael Hansen

Publishers: Dark Sky Books, 2006  ISBN: 0976924307

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

Lawyers writing legal thrillers are dime a dozen. I am a connoisseur of the genre and a self-proclaimed numero- uno legal thriller lover. In the past 6 months I have read at least 20 odd debut legal thrillers written wannabe Grishams and lawyer- novelists. Save for three or four, most of the books proved to be duds. And it was with not much expectation I started reading Night Laws- the debut work of lawyer Jim Michael Hansen. But I was wrong- Night Laws sure proved special. There is something unique about the work, something special that makes the work real interesting. A fine blend of the taut narrative style reminiscent of the Alex Cross novels of James Patterson and of the plot theme reminiscent of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series is the highlight of the work such that the reader is glued into the pages of the work.

Though referenced as Legal thrillers, the protagonist is not an attorney. The series protagonist is Homicide Detective Bryson Coventry (even the name has a ‘hero’ ring to it, right) of the Denver Police Force. When beautiful and ambitious attorney Kelly Parks seeks his help, rather protection, Coventry jumps himself into action. Kelly Parks has been warned that she is a potent target of a vicious killer- and the warning has come to her from no one else but the would-be assassin himself. She seeks Coventry’s help and soon the Detective is convinced that there really is someone out there to get Kelly. But who it is, and why she is the potential target are things unknown. The more Coventry investigates, he realizes that the answer to these questions lie within some old case Parks herself tried, or a secret lodged deep within the vaults of Holland, Roberts and Northway, Denver’s largest law firm and for whom Kelly Parks works.

What follows is tensed action of the first order, culminating in a nail-biting- spine-chilling finish. The author’s website states that the sequel to this book, Fear Laws will be published in late 2006. I eagerly wait for the same. That Bryson Coventry will soon join the ranks of Detective Alex Cross (James Patterson), Detective Harry Bosch (Michael Connelly),  PI Derek Strange (George Pelecanos), no doubt- the only doubt I have is- when will the movie version of this book be released. Can’t wait for it.

Night Laws is recommended, very highly recommended.

Jim Hansen was a recently featured author, follow the link for the exciting interview!

 

BUBBLES BETROTHED by Sarah Strohmeyer

Publisher: Signet ISBN 0 4512168

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader 

Nobody wants to be in jail for Thanksgiving, but a true investigative reporter would chance even that dreadful fate in order to protect her professional integrity.

The mis-named Judge Fortunato doesn't jail Bubbles Yablonsky, but he does impose a huge incremental fine on her for refusing to turn over her notes of the brief talk she had with murder suspect Julia Simon, aka "Popeye", just before Popeye died.

Things go from bad to worse for Lehigh Pennsylvania's most famous blonde.  She discovers her main squeeze, Steve Stiletto, is engaged--but not to her.  And her ex-husband Dan  complicates her life, first by not showing up when she needs a lawyer, and then turning up all over the place and eventually proposing they re-marry for the welfare of their daughter Jane, who's trying to get into an Ivy League college.  Or that's what Dan tells Bubbles is the reason for the surprise proposal..

It doesn't take a graduate of  Two Guys Community College (where Bubbles presumably learned words like 'burgeon') to see that the only way Bubbles will save herself from the $50,000 fine and rescue her abducted daughter, is to either hand over the notes or get some industrial strength assistance.  Luckily Steve Stiletto arrives on the scene like the 9th Cavalry and despite some hairy moments, the reader feels things are now under control.  Or are they?  When the bullets start flying, the only certain thing is that somebody will get in the way..

This fifth outing for America's favourite bottle blonde will provide the perfect gift for that friend of yours who takes life too seriously.

 

Countdown by Iris Johansen

Publisher: Bantam Books, Incorporated  ISBN: 0553586513

Reviewed by Robin Thomas, New Mystery Reader

Countdown reads like an Indiana Jones movie and includes a treasure hunt, murder, international intrigue, terrorism and romance.  Even though Countdown is another installment in the Eve Duncan Forensic sculptor series; the main character is Jane MacGuire, her adopted daughter. 

Jane is a student at Harvard University.  Although nearly four years has passed since her last adventure, she is still haunted by Mark Trevor and Cira.  Cira lived over 2,000 years ago in Herculaneum and she was considered “the femme fatale of the ancient world.”  Cira is tied to a lost treasure of gold that hunters and archaeologists have spent years looking for it.  Jane is also connected to the mystery of Cira because she looks just like her statute.  Jane and Trevor parted company four years ago but he returns to her life again when he finds out that she is in danger.  This time the search for Cira’s gold plays a role in a series of planned terrorist attacks more horrific than 9/11; the question is whether Trevor and Jane will find the treasure in time.

Countdown is a fast-paced romantic adventure tale that will leave the reader breathless by the last page of the book.  Trevor is the dashing but roguish adventurer who falls for Jane when she is still a teenager.  Jane and Trevor are pitted in a race against time to save the U.S. from disaster.  Eve Duncan and her husband Joe Quinn make cameo appearances in this novel that is focused on Jane.  Although there are references to other books in the series, this book can be enjoyed without having read the others.  Countdown is an adventure that will look good on the “silver screen.”

 

 

Cut and Run by Ridley Pearson

Publisher:  Hyperion  ISBN:  0-7868-90029

Reviewed by Susan Illis, New Mystery Reader 

Falling in love with the witness Roland Larson was protecting violated the U. S. Marshal Service’s policy, so when Hope Stevens asked him to join her in the witness protection program, he refused.  Who knew if their fledgling relationship was worth giving up his career for?

Six years later, on the very night he swears he hears her distinctive laugh at the play he’s attending, Larson is summoned out of the theater by two agents.  Leopold Markowitz, author of the code for the master witness protection list, has disappeared.  The corruption of the list puts thousands of witnesses at risk, but Larson’s primary concern is for Hope.

Only a few steps behind the assassin the crime syndicate has hired to kill Hope, Larson tracks her to St. Louis.  Although Paolo, the hired killer, leaves a trail of victims in his wake, he hasn’t yet reached Hope.  Just as Larson locates Hope, Paolo abducts her five-year-old daughter, and Larson’s burden grows greater; not only is he protecting Hope, he’s trying to find her daughter, while also tracking Markowitz.

Once the action starts in Cut and Run, it doesn’t stop.  Fast-paced and suspenseful, this procedural will keep you at the edge of your seat.  Some of the characters seem a bit like the Energizer bunny, but the resourceful, brave five-year-old, Penny, alone makes this book worth reading.

 

Sympathy Between Humans by Jodi Compton

Publisher: Dell ISBN: 0440241375

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

A follow up to Compton's stunning debut, The 37th Hour, this latest shines just as brightly as its predecessor.  Following the shattering events of the previous winter, Minneapolis detective Sarah Pribek now finds herself alone to face the consequences; with her husband in jail and her partner off to another country, Sarah alone must deal with both the legal and emotional fall-out. 

Searching for distraction, she willingly takes on any case that lands upon her desk, one being that of a doctor rumoring to be practicing in the projects without a license, the other being the missing person's case of a young teen.  As she further investigates both cases, she will find herself once again torn between the law and her own heart.   And as she gets even more involved with the family of the missing teen, she will discover some shattering secrets that will lead her down yet another torturous path, a path that will either help her find her way back or will put her out for good.

Sarah is one of the most empathetic detectives to come along in awhile, and it's her great compassion and willingness to break the rules that makes her such a wonderful character.  Also a joy for readers is Compton's pitch perfect narrative, one that's filled with suspense and plenty of heart to go along with it.  If you've yet to read this spectacular new talent, now would be a good time to start.      

 

In the Company of Liars by David Ellis

Publisher: Berkely ISBN: 0425204294

Reviewed by Robin Thomas, New Mystery Reader

In the Company of Liars is an exhilarating murder mystery thriller that provides the reader with the same intensity as the TV show “24.”  Like “24” the novel follows a timeline but it is in reverse.  One would think that finding out how the mystery ends in the first few pages would spoil the story but that is not the case in this novel.

Allison Pagone, an award winning novelist, is charged with the murder of Sam Dillon, a lobbyist.  Tied into the murder are Allison’s ex-husband and daughter, an American journalist, a research scientist, a pharmaceutical company, a Pakistani nationalist, and the FBI.  Agent Jane McCoy and her partner, Owen Harrick, are trying valiantly to keep the operation from falling apart but things become even more complicated when Allison Pagone is found dead; but was it really a suicide?  Additionally as time moves along, in reverse, the question remains, what is the real objective of Agents McCoy and Harrick’s operation?

David Ellis does a masterful job of using the reverse chronological order technique to amplify the intensity and fast pace of the novel.  Ellis spins a tale that is full of questions, false assumptions and suspense from “end to beginning.”  In the Company of Liars is a thrilling and entertaining read that I most highly recommend.

 

 

Unlucky for Some by Jill McGown

Publisher: Ballantine Books ISBN 0345476565

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

The detecting duo of Lloyd and Hill make their return in this gently appealing mystery of death and deviance in the villages of the cozy English countryside.  Now married, and with a young child in hand, the two share duties on and off the job.  In this instance, they're called in when a woman is apparently mugged for her recent bingo winnings.  But it doesn't long to notice that not only are her winnings mysteriously spread over her body, but that her death was not necessarily intended.  However, when other murders occur, all with the same MO, the duo must now admit that the trail will most probably lead to a killer who enjoys it all too much and will continue until stopped.

Lloyd and Hill, as usual, present a charming and intelligent face to this by-the-book police procedural.  And with plenty of suspects, red-herrings, and alternative motives given, there is much fun to be had for the armchair detective.  This is a satisfying and cozy detective story made even more enjoyable through its lack of violent and graphic detail, and for that, it's perfect for a Sunday afternoon spent reading by the fireplace. 

 

The Sign of the Book by John Dunning

Publisher: Pocket  ISBN: 0743482476

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader 

Cliff Janeway is a Denver book seller who deals with both rare and everyday used books, but don't let the name or the occupation mislead you into thinking this is some sort of bow-tied older gentleman.  Because in Janeway's soul beats the heart of the gruff and sometimes violent cop that he once was. 

Things have been quiet lately for Janeway, selling his books from his Colfax Avenue shop and enjoying his satisfying relationship with defense attorney Erin D'Angelo.  But that's all about to change when Erin is begged to defend Laura Marshall who lives in the small mountain town of Paradise, CO.  Erin has her doubts about the case, as Laura was once her best-friend, a friend who betrayed her by having an affair with Erin's lover.  To make matters even more complicated is that it's Erin's old lover, now Laura's husband, that Laura is accused of killing.  So while Erin contemplates the matter, Janeway goes up to Paradise because, of course, there are books involved in the unexplained murder.

Loyalty and betrayal are wonderfully pitted against each other is this thrilling tale of murder.  Set against the background of Paradise, Co. with its numerous snowstorms and chilling winter scenes make this the perfect read for a cold winter afternoon.  And especially riveting is Janeway himself, not only his complex and riveting personality, but the secrets he reveals of the life of a "bookman".  Highly engrossing, this is one you won't want to miss.

 

LOCKED ROOMS by Laurie R. King

Publisher-Bantam  ISBN:0-553-83417

Reviewed By Pamela James, New Mystery Reader

After spending time in India and Japan, Sherlock Holmes and his young bride Mary set sail for San Francisco, California.  Mary needs to sign papers on her family estate left to when her parents and brother died in a tragic car crash ten years earlier.

Mary has talked little about her past but when nightmares start to become part of their nightly routine and Mary talks more and more about blaming herself for her parents death Sherlock's concerns are grave, but when she talks of flying objects, and a faceless man along with a house of locked rooms to which she is the only one who has the key he knows they must solve the mystery together.

With the help of Mary's childhood friend Flo Greenstreet a child of the jazz age, Tom Lang the son of the Chinese couple who served her parents for so many years, and Dashiell Hammett, who helps Sherlock with the sleuthing, the truth surfaces one clue, and one room at a time.

Laurie King has captured the era, the city, and the mystery and presented us with a heart stopping story of suspense, with the historical aspects of the mystery perfectly serving to blend cultures and crimes. This is a top notch mystery that which should become a classic for any library shelf through the decades.